Truth: Baptism

Truth: Baptism 

The basic meaning of baptism is “identification.”  The word baptize means to immerse, but the concept means identification.  For example, Homer wrote in B.C. 850, that soldiers would dip or “baptize” their spear tips into a bucket of pig’s blood, which identified the spear with war and death.  When a rag was dipped into a bucket of dye, the rag was baptized or identified by the color of dye.

There are eight different baptisms mentioned in the Bible.  There are five real baptisms and three ritual baptisms.  A real baptism is where there is an actual identification of something with something else and is dry.  A ritual baptism is where water is involved in some manner giving a symbolic identification.

The five real baptisms include the baptisms of Moses; Fire; Cup; Holy Spirit; and Noah. These are actually dry identifications.  In other words, the person who was baptized remained dry.

First, the baptism of Moses is an identification of Israel with Moses and the Red Sea.  Paul writes, “All were baptized into Moses and within the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:2) In this case, the nation of Israel went through the Red Sea on dry ground and remained dry.  Who were those who got wet?  The Egyptians were wet and died!

Secondly, the baptism of Fire is an identification of unbelievers with judgment and specifically judgment of unbelievers cast off the earth at the Second Advent. Matthew records, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt. 3:11) The fire is God’s judgment.  Unbelievers will be identified with the judgment of fire. There is no water involved.

Thirdly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the identification of the Church Age believer into the body of Christ.  This is a salvation ministry of the Holy Spirit entering the believer into union with Christ in the body of Christ.  Paul writes, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body– whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free– and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13)  It is what unites all Church Age believers together (Eph. 4:5).  This did not occur in the Old Testament.  It began as one of the mystery truths of the Church Age.  Paul writes,

26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.
27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which1 is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:26-27)

This baptism is what provides equality in God’s family,

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:26-28)

Fourthly, the baptism of the Cup identified Jesus with the cross. Jesus said to his disciples,

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized.  (Mark 10:38-39)

Jesus warned the disciples that they too would be identified with the cross by dying to themselves, although not on the cross Jesus was hung.  In His humanity, Jesus did not desire the cross, but was willing to accept the Father’s will and go to the cross.  He said, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)  God the Father identified with Jesus all the sins of the world and Jesus became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21).

            Fifthly, the baptism of Noah was an identification of Noah’s family with Noah on the Ark.  Peter records for us,

spirits in prison,  20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited1 in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
 21There is also an antitype which now saves us– baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 3:19-21)

Those who were baptized into Noah remained dry on the Ark and those who became wet died.

            There are also three ritual baptisms in which literal water represents something else.  First, there is the baptism of Jesus, in which the water represented the Father’s plan and the baptism symbolized Jesus’ commitment to fulfill God’s plan.  It began the public ministry of Jesus.  Matthew records this baptism,

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.
 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He1 saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:13-17)

            Secondly, the baptism of John was identification of John’s converts with the Kingdom of God and the water represented the kingdom.  John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptizeyou with the Holy Spirit and fire.(Matt. 3:11) 

            Thirdly, believer’s baptism is identification of the convert with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.  The water represents the Body of Christ and burial of the old self.  Luke records in Acts, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:41)

            Baptism is a one-time event, symbolizing one death and one resurrection to walk in newness of life.  Communion is the other ordinance in the church that is done repeatedly, in order to look back, look at the present and look forward. Communion remembers the death of Christ, encourages fellowship with the saints and declares Christ’s death until He comes.

           
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Multiplying Together

Multiplying Together

            If I offered you two options for financial success, which would you choose?  Would you choose to receive one penny today and double that each day for the next 30 days?  So the second day you’d have two pennies and on day three you’d have four pennies and so forth. Or, would you rather receive 10,000.00 each day for thirty days? 

Some people might say, “Go for the fast $10,000.00!  He might run out of money!”  And humanly speaking that would make sense.  Besides, after only ten days, one person would have $5.12 and the other person would have 100,000.00!  That seems like a no brainer.  And that is probably why we don’t follow the Lord’s principle for discipleship in ministry. 

            A good math student knows that after thirty days, the person receiving the $10,000.00 each day will end up with $300,000.00, which seems like a sizeable amount and a good investment from any perspective.  Yet, the person who received the penny and doubled each day would have $5,368,709.12.  Yes, that’s over five million dollars!

            Friends, that’s what happens when we disciple and multiply other people.  Reach them with the gospel and then fulfill the Great Commission by discipling faithful people.  Paul said it very well,“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”1  Do you see the four generations involved?  The first generation is Paul and the second generation is Timothy.  Then the third generation is “faithful men” and the fourth generation is “others” who are taught by the faithful men.

            Jesus spent time with twelve men.  He spent time with them.  He taught them.  He put them to work.  He helped them practice what He was teaching them.  After just a little over three years, they went out to disciple others – some more and some less, but they transformed the world!  Multiplication always produces more fruit than addition.

            The third statement of our Grace Church vision statement is “Multiply together to reach the world for Christ.”  Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” 2 

If a believer discipled two people who then discipled two more people, then the number would climb slowly but multiply exceedingly!  If they each discipled three or four then the potential for growth and impact would increase exponentially.   Going back to the initial doubling illustration, after 30 generations there could be five million followers or disciples of Jesus Christ.  My friends, we might not see the impact now but we will when we get to heaven!

Let me give you several thoughts on multiplying at Grace:

First, train your children to walk in godliness.  They are your first responsibility and can effectively influence their world to come. 

Secondly, train someone how to do your ministry. If you are ushering, ask someone to come alongside you to observe.  If you are teaching, find an assistant who can watch you teach, so that you can entrust that class to them if the Lord leads you on to another opportunity. 

Thirdly, help us reach out to your neighbors.  If you know of someone who would like a visit, the outreach team is more than willing to go with you or make the visit.  If they become believers, we can help them multiply by discipling them to godliness. Then they can, again with our help, become disciplers of disciplers!

Fourthly, become equipped to disciple others by being discipled yourself. Then begin discipling two or three other faithful people who will be able to disciple others.

There are many ways to serve Jesus Christ.  The most fulfilling, in my view, is discipling people to take the next spiritual step to become disciplers of disciplers.  Discipleship is multiplication, which produces more results than addition.  As we assume personal responsibility for building in the kingdom, we will multiply and watch the exponential growth! Join the team and see the growth!

12Timothy 2:2;  2Matthew 28:19-20

 

 

 

Equipping Together

Equipping Together

There are few things more exciting than watching a team rally together and take on “enemy forces.”  These “enemy forces” may be another school’s football team, show choir, or marching band.  It’s fun to watch the training, focus, discipline and execution that brings individuals together into a team.  I remember playing “kick the can” against the other neighborhood’s kids and “capture the flag” with a friendly church group.  At Grace we work together not only to do ministry but to fight as a family against spiritual forces.  There are spiritual forces and distractions like busyness, becoming like the culture, or even gossip, division, the scourge of the tongue or worse.

Equipping Togetheris the second aspect of Grace’s Vision Statement.  Here are the three statements:

  • Connecting together to worship God

·         Equipping together in grace to be more like Christ

·         Multiplying together with the gospel to reach the world

Last month we looked at the first statement on Connecting Together. This month let’s highlight Equipping Together!

Equipping is a biblical word and concept.  Note these two great passages Paul writes:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  for the equippingof the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…1

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.2

Equipping is the nurture, love, training and exhortation you get at church and in fellowship with other believers to give glory to the Lord in and through His body.  It means you can’t “sit, soak or sour” as a Christian. You can measure how you’re doing by how you’re expanding your ability to reach and disciple other people.

Together means you are not alone.  It means you work with others in the body to become more like Christ.  It means you don’t just stay home and study, when your privilege is to help others grow to be more like Christ, (even if you have better ideas and you think you can be more efficient!)  Together means you consider others more important than yourself.3

To be more like Christmeans God’s purposes are for us to become conformed to the image of Jesus.4  When God’s people are conformed to the image of Jesus, then there will be an assembly of prayer and praise at churches across the land, rather than division and discouragement.  There will be outreach of gospel truth and compassion to communities.  Why?  There will be growth because church will be a place of unity, empowerment and growth with all believers equipping together.

            I see this going on at Grace.  Steve Perron and Mike Monfreda put together a great Elder Training series this summer for equipping potential future elders.  I see this in Youth Ministry as Justin works with AJ Hillebrand, Josh Georgen and others for equipping in youth ministry.  I see this in the quarterly Children’s Ministry Training; Pat Hillebrand and Vickie Hovenstine equipping teachers and helpers for the children’s ministry.  I see Rich Witmer equipping musicians and singers for leading us in praise.  I see this in the Fellowship Groups and Home Groups as people both learn truth and learn how to apply the truth in good relationships.

            We saw a great manifestation of equipping as the Connection Team equipped many of the ministries to rally together for the Ministry Fair.  I get to see the behind-the-scenes work of the Communication Team working on branding and brochure work as well as connecting to ministries to facilitate better communication at Grace.  I saw the Men’s Ministry equip families at the movie “Courageous” after which many men and women stood up to take on the challenge of standing tall for Jesus.  I  see the Outreach Team equip many people for outreach ministry.

            The opportunities and follow through for equipping together to be more like Christ are present, ready and growing at Grace.  Let’s keep working together as a team so that no “enemy forces,” whether human or angelic, can thwart or hinder God’s open door for ministry at Grace!  How do you see our team coming together to equip together?

 

1Ephesians 4:12-13a; 22 Timothy 3:16-17; 3Philippians 2:3-4; 4Romans 8:29

Connect Together

Connect Together

 
I enjoy meeting new people who visit Grace.  There are a number of reasons why people check us out and I’m always interested.  Most people are looking for a place to worship by learning about Scripture or by raising their children – they want them in a safe friendly place or a church where they will be accepted.  I’ve heard many people say that Grace Evangelical Church uses the Scriptures during the messages!  It’s hard to believe that a church would not value and preach God’s Word, but I’m told many churches don’t use much Scripture.  Their teaching may be merely stories or a psychological rendering of people’s problems.
 
Whatever their reason for visiting Grace, I always think, “How I can connect people to help them feel a part of the family at Grace?” That’s part of our Vision Statement:

  • Connecting together to worship God

       ·         Equipping together in grace to be more like Christ

·         Multiplying together with the gospel to reach the world world

My first concern is really the first line of the vision statement.  Let me take a few moments to address that first line.

            The Scott family recently joined Grace.  Steve works on the north side now and Kayce is the co-director of Noah’s Ark.  I loved hearing how they are connecting together to worship at Grace. Kayce was sharing with the new staff of Noah’s Ark and she said, “We love being at Grace, because people here know so much Scripture.  They rattle off verses about what the Bible says to every circumstance of life.  I have not been around that before.  It’s amazing!”  She also commented that connecting to groups is what helps us worship the Lord. Steve and Kayce have connected with the Word Processors.  Kayce said she loves how the group is walking through books of the Bible in a way that they understand.

Connection helps us fulfill God’s way of worship.  When we come together and show both the truth and caring for others, people respond in exalted worship of the Lord. 

Our new Connection Team Ministry is always working on trying to help people see how they might connect in the groups we offer – both fellowship groups and home groups.  The Ministry Fair was put on by the Connection Team and the Communication Team so that we can connect together to worship Godcorporately and work in our community as the Body of Christ.

Yes, connection is extremely important for us to worship God.  The writer to the Hebrews records: And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.1 Whether we are described as a body,2 living stones built up into a spiritual house,3the household of God,4 a holy temple of the Lord,5 or built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit,6 God designed us to worship Him together.  We do that best when connected through a variety of ways – worship service, fellowship groups, home groups and serving together.

 

I pray that you’ll get to know some of our new people so that you’ll connect together to worship God in Spirit and in Truth!

 
1Hebrews 10:24-25; 21 Corinthians 12:12-20; 31 Peter 2:5; 4Ephesians 2:19; 5Ephesians 2:20; 6Ephesians 2:21
 

 

Connect; Equip; Multiply: Vision for Growth

This newsletter article was printed for the August, 2012, Grace and Truth Newsletter.

Connect; Equip; Multiply

August 2012

It’s hard to drive down the road while looking into thick fog.  That’s why clear vision is a key ingredient for forward movement.  A Vision statement needs to be simple, memorable and clear to guide us where we need to go.

Most of us are visually oriented.  Imagine keeping your eyes closed for 24 hours!  A Visionstatement captures the mind to tell people where they are going and guides them along the way.  Visionis the picture that gives people a sense of belonging and community.

Before we continue with Vision, let’s note the mission statement and purpose of Grace.  A Mission states why an organization exists.  Our Mission statement is: “Love God, love others and make disciples to Jesus Christ.”  Purpose defines why the vision and mission statements matter.  Our purpose is found in our constitution and states,

The purpose of Grace Evangelical Church shall be to glorify God by means of teaching and preaching of the Word of God, by fellowshipping with one another, by discipling believers into maturity, by emphasizing spiritually strong families, by providing a weekly time of corporate worship and prayer, and by encouraging believers to share the good news of Christ through life and words in the sphere of the home, community and throughout the world.

If we are clear on our purpose, we must be clear on our Vision.  There are three statements in our Vision:

·         Connecting together to worship God

·         Equipping together in grace to be more like Christ

·         Multiplying together with the gospel to reach the world

Let’s note several thoughts about these statements. First, each statement includes the word “together.”  We are the Bride of Christ together.  We will all one day worship together before His throne:

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and .the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”1 

We gather together to honor Him in worship in one purpose of the Bride of Christ.

 

Secondly, each statement is proactive and measures something. Paul writes,

[Communication gifts were given]…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head– Christ–  16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.2

You can tell when you are connected – you are in fellowship with people at church and “knit together”, growing to unity of the faith (doctrine).  You can tell when you are equipped – you are in the work of ministry.  You can tell when you are multiplying – you are training and sending your replacement.
Thirdly, each statement focuses attention vertically and horizontally. The horizontal element is seen in the equal standing we have together before God.   The vertical element is seen in “worshipping God,” becoming “more like Christ” and taking the “gospel [good news from heaven]” to reach the world.

Connect, Equip and Multiply.  Those three words will see us through to accomplish God’s purpose for Grace.  I’ll take each word in the next three months to amplify and help us capture the Elder’s vision so you can see where we’re going!

1Revelation 5:11,12; 2Ephesians 4:12-16